Notre Dame OL target Nicholas Petit-Frere noncommittal about future commitment

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

ORLANDO, Fla. — Nicholas Petit-Frere isn’t all that interested in committing.

Not to a school. Not to a coach.

At least, not right now.

Last Saturday, after the first practice leading up to Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Bowl, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound offensive lineman addressed a mob of reporters, and revealed next to nothing.

For instance, does Petit-Frere — who has been offered by nearly 30 schools — have a list of finalists, with little more than a month until national signing day on Feb. 7?

“Yeah, everyone that’s been recruiting me so far,” the Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Preparatory School standout said.

OK, so no finalists. But which schools have been recruiting him the hardest?

“Everybody,” Petit-Frere offered. “It’s just day-to-day. It’s kind of how the days are going, if people are in bowl games or not, if they have free time. It’s kind of their schedule, not mine.”

So … that’s not very helpful. But, considering Petit-Frere has taken his only two official visits to Michigan and Notre Dame, surely he has legitimate interest in the Irish. For example, what’s his relationship like with ND offensive line coach Harry Hiestand?

“It’s a good relationship,” he said. “All the coaches that have been recruiting me have been very respectful and kind to me during the process. We both give each other the right amount of space, and everybody else has been doing that as well.

“So I’m very grateful to have amazing coaches contacting me. I’m very grateful and humbled that they want me to be a part of their program.”

Well, that’s nice, even if it isn’t remotely revealing. A five-star recruit and the No. 1 offensive tackle nationally according to 247Sports, Petit-Frere protects quarterbacks as effectively as he protects his actual opinions. That’s why programs like Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Ohio State, Florida State, Georgia, Stanford and USC have joined Notre Dame on his offer list.

But what do those programs need to offer to cut his list to one?

“I want to make sure I feel comfortable,” said Petit-Frere, who added that he plans to narrow his list of suitors following the All-America game. “I want to make sure I can go there and succeed academically however I want to. I also want to make sure that I can succeed football-wise. All the schools that have been recruiting me so far have that.

“It’s a surreal thing to have schools of this type of caliber recruiting me. I’m very grateful to have all this happen to me.”

Notre Dame — which last month was awarded the Joe Moore Award, honoring college football’s premier offensive line — certainly appears to check Petit-Frere’s required boxes. And, with two signees (John Dirksen and Cole Mabry) and one verbal commit (Luke Jones) in the 2018 class, the Irish will surely make room for a fourth.

Petit-Frere — a four-star prospect and the No. 67 overall player in his class, according to Rivals — made an official visit to Notre Dame on Oct. 21, and witnessed the Irish physically decimate annual rival USC.

They didn’t do enough, however, to coax an early signing in December.

“I did (think about signing early), but you might not be able to take all five visits at that point, and I really wanted to be able to focus on football this season and try to have my senior year as best I could,” Petit-Frere said. “That’s why I didn’t try to take any officials during my season. I did take one (to Notre Dame), but I was still just trying to make sure I focused on football.

“I really wanted to make sure I focused on this (Under Armour) game as well — getting bigger, faster, stronger and working out, and getting my academics straight as well.”

At some point, someday, Petit-Frere will have to focus on recruiting. But it wasn’t last Saturday, nor will it be Thursday, when he competes alongside two Notre Dame signees — linebacker Jack Lamb and defensive back Houston Griffith — in the Under Armour All-America Bowl in Orlando.

Maybe, in 2018, Petit-Frere will play with Lamb and Griffith once again. Or maybe he won’t.

One way or another, this reserved recruit isn’t talking.


Twitter: @mikevorel

Offensive linemen Luke Jones (left) and Nicholas Petit-Frere, 2018 recruits, walk around campus before the University of Southern California at Notre Dame football game. (Tribune Photo/MICHAEL CATERINA)